Iran's Selective Site Bans

Iran-Flag Iran's Selective Site BansThink of something you really want. Something that you have been deprived of your entire life. Now, think of what it might feel like to suddenly have that thing. What would your emotion be? Happiness? Jubilation? Extreme excitement?

That thing you've always wanted is finally yours. But, wait – now you can't have it anymore. Just as quickly as it has arrived, it's gone.

This is what happened to the many Iranians that had brief access to sites like Facebook and Twitter late last night. Due to a “glitch,” certain blocked sites were unblocked for a short amount of time. Those sites are now blocked once more, but Iranians that had a small glimpse of Internet freedom haven't forgotten what it was like.

The Government Glitch

Like something straight out of Orwell's ‘1984,' the Iranian Government has spent millions trying to keep Internet within the country “safe” for residents. A safe Internet means an Internet that does not include any anti-government ideas or sites that might allow citizens to organize anti-government movements.

There is some speculation this morning that the so-called glitch that occurred last night wasn't a glitch at all. Some believe that government authorities might be experimenting with filtering options. At present, Iran filters Google search results within the country, and government leaders may be looking to see whether or not the same filters can be applied to sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Really, though, the sites that are currently banned are something of a running joke with Iran's borders.

A Pointless Endeavor

During the early 1990s, Iran imposed a ban on video recorders within the country, Reuters reports. That ban was lifted once the government discovered that people were using video recorders anyway. The same kind of thing is happening with the Internet, despite the ban on millions of websites.

Iranians with enough tech-savvy know that proxy servers can be used to appear out of country. But, some are still left in the dark. Others are just hopeful that Iran's newly elected president (Hassan Rouhani) will make good on his election promise to lift government Internet censorship.

Iran's Selective Site Bans: Where There's a Will

The government branch responsible for Internet censorship within Iran is called the ‘Supreme Council for Cyberspace' (it has a nice Star Wars-themed ring to it, doesn't it?), but even the Supreme Council can't stop Iranians from accessing sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times (yes, the NY Times is also on the list of blocked sites).

Rouhani may be trying to find a way to let Iranians access the Internet in a filtered way, but it doesn't look like he has much of a choice. The other option is to admit defeat while Iranians access restricted sites through proxy servers.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Should Iran's Internet ban be lifted? Leave me a note below.

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